Rieslings of distinction: the Mittelhaardt
The Palatinate wine-growing region is divided into two large areas.The northern area, the Mittelhaardt, extends from Neustadt in a northerly direction over Deidesheim, Bad Dürkheim and the Leininger Land right up to Zellertal.This part of the Palatinate wine country is a vacation landscape and at the same time known for its traditional and highly-productive viniculture.The introduction of wine-growing to this splendid region by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago is evidenced by the Roman wine press in Bad Dürkheim-Ungstein or an excavated farming estate in Wachenheim, the »villa rustica«.
Even later rulers such as the Earls of Leininger or the Salian emperors constructed castles and monasteries along the slopes of the Haardt.Particularly noteworthy is the Hambacher Schloß (Hambach castle) at Neustadt/Weinstrasse.It has gone down in history as the birthplace of German democracy since the so-called »Hambacher Fest« (Hambacher Festival) of 1832.Wine connoisseurs enthuse over the Mittelhaardt.Frank Schoonmaker, for example, has characterized the wines of this region as »Rieslings of remarkable fineness, fruit and distinguished quality«.And the renowned Hugh Johnson in his »Atlas der Deutschen Weine« (Atlas of German Wines) attested that the Rieslings from this area have a »particular full body and maturity that clearly distinguish them as wines from a sunny climate.They vie with one another in finesse, vivid acidity and deep sweetness.«
The forest protects the wine
The wine-growers tend almost 11,000 hectares of wine-growing country, and nature helps them in their endeavor for quality.Almost 2000 hours of sunshine ensure many warm days each year.The Haardt and the Palatinate forest (Pfälzerwald) protect the world-renowned vineyard locations and the geological development with the rupture in the upper Rhine rift.Faults, volcanic eruptions, temporary envelopment by the sea and loess sedimentation after the last ice age provide a varied soil structure.
Sandstone and volcanic soils
These soils, combined with the climate and the skilful know-how of the wine-growers and cellarers, are the basis for the distinctive wines and their typical character.Heady Rieslings often thrive on heat-storing volcanic soil; spicy and vivacious wines love the mineral-enriched red sandstone soils; the loose sandstone soils produce mild, elegant wines, whereas the chalky soils are the basis for full-bodied, aromatic wines.
White grape varieties are dominant
Hundreds of vineyards and more than a dozen wine co-operatives exploit these virtues for their produce.The emphasis on Rieslings clearly prevails.White varieties grow on more than 6540 hectares, where Rieslings make up more than half of the cultivated varieties.Besides these varieties, full-bodied Spätburgunder (pinot noir) and deep-red Dornfelder, pleasant Portugieser Weißherbste and of course the elegant Weißburgunder and Grauburgunder (pinot blanc and pinot gris) and dozens of other specialties also thrive here.The spectrum ranges, as with the southern wine route, the second area of the wine route, from the solid wine served by the glass to the elegant superior-quality wines and sparking wines (Sekt).
More information about the Mittelhaardt region can be found at